The kids have flown the nest, you’ve worked your last day, and you’re ready to take it easy in an Independent Living community, free of the need to mow your lawn, shovel your walk, paint your house, or even drive to the theater.
Before you make your decision, consider these 10 factors.
1. Type: What type of independent living community is the best for you? Do you want only senior housing, where other people of approximately the same age live near you? Do you want to live in a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC), where you can go from independent living to assisted living to skilled nursing without leaving the area? Or do you want to live in a hybrid community with a pay-for-services model? Senior housing also comprises low-income or subsidized housing and senior apartments.
2. Cost: How much can you afford, and which is most cost-effective? In the U.S., the average monthly cost of independent living ranges from about $1,500 to $3,500. Medicare does not cover the cost of independent living, although some long-term insurance with home care benefits may contribute. CCRCs typically require a large entrance fee to cover costs associated with higher care levels. Residents then pay a monthly rent, which increases as care levels increase.
3. Setting: Some independent living communities are little more than houses that may only be sold or rented to people over 55 years of age. Others include campuses with beauty salons, fitness center, dining rooms, and more.
4. Location: Do you want to live near your old neighborhood, in the same city or closer to your children?
5. Amenities: Are activities, fine dining, a fitness center, a swimming pool, transportation and more of importance to you?
6. Residents: Your neighbors can be a varied lot, depending on your community’s location, cost and amenities. Choose a community with neighbors you like.
7. Transportation: Some communities provide transportation to doctor’s appointments. Some provide transportation to scheduled activities, such as a theater performance or bowling. Others are located on transit lines.
8. Fees for Services: Some communities’ fees are inclusive, while others offer a pay-per-fee model. Read your contract and ask questions.
9. Financial Stability: CARF offers a free guide on how to judge the financial stability of CCRCs. It’s also a good deal to ask around.
10. Reputation: Google the community’s name. Go to nearby businesses. Ask residents. Glassdoor offers employee reviews.
The nurses at Care Pathways have a very detailed checklist that may be helpful in rating various communities.